Quote

You Should Cheat

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”Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” – Salvator Dali

Before you start insulting me, let’s make something clear, I’m not talking about relationships. Let me explain myself. We all do things that doesn’t fit in our ideal life. The best examples are eating fast food, drinking alcohol, taking load of caffeine, watching TV, browsing the internet, playing video games or being lazy. The list could be longer, but you see the point. Tuesday, I’ve received my copy Fallout 4 by Amazon. For those, who don’t what I’m talking about, Fallout is post-apocalyptic video games. The game is huge and can easily suck you in for hours. I took my copy and put it aside. I wanted to make a simple experiment. I told myself that would only play saturday (for the whole day) if all the important stuff I wanted do would be done (gym, writing, reading and projects). Without committing myself, I would have easily spend all my free time playing and I’m not joking. To my surprise, I was way more productive that way. What I can see about that…

  • My gaming experience was even better because I’ve delayed the reward. I was awaiting that moment all week.
  • I wasn’t ashamed to play for my whole Saturday, because everything I wanted to be done, was finished.
  • I did way more during my week by avoiding anything related to TV. I felt more satisfied about myself, therefore I was more happy and less stressed.

Cheating can also help you build habits. I love to drink Red Bull. I know it’s bad for the health. I remember in my college years, drinking 2 cans a day. Nowadays, I avoid it as much as possible. The best way that I used to stop was to let myself cheat once or twice a month. I’ve avoided the pain of removing what I like from my life, but at the same I’ve reduce so much the quantity I drink that it doesn’t have significant impact on my life.

Trying to be perfect is impossible. It’s a recipe for frustration. Let yourself deliberately cheat, not too much, but just enough.

The Unmistakable

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They criticize me for harping on the obvious; if all the folks in the United States would do the few simple things they know they ought to do, most of our big problems would take care of themselves.” – Calvin Coolidge

Have you ever search for your keys only to find out they were in your hand? The answer can be straight in our face and we can be blind to see it.  What we search can be so obvious, it’s natural to look elsewhere.

A while ago, I was trying to find ways to improve my strenght at the deadlift and overhead press. My first instinct was trying to find shortcuts. Maybe a new supplement could be my savior? Maybe I could add a new assistant exercise to my training? What if I wasn’t stretching properly? You can see where this was going.

After thinking about it, I concluded that if I wanted to get stronger, I needed to do more strength. As simple as that. I’ve added a few sets of singles (doing the maximum for 1 rep) to each session and after a week I was already seeing a big difference. We often try to find shortcuts, hacks, tips, tricks or whatever. We want to find the easy way to do things, because we want to avoid the hard way.

You want more money? Instead of cancelling your Netflix account, you could just find an another job or ask for a raise. You need to lose weight, drinking Coca-Cola Zero won’t make a big difference. What you need is to eat less carbs period.

We don’t need the new cool apps, the next productivity hacks or that new trendy idea. What we need is to stop bullshiting ourselves for one moment and do what fucking matters.

Randomness #6: Steve Jobs, World War II, a Millionaire Living in a Van and More.

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Life & Culture

[*] The Man in The Van (ESPN) – The no.1 Jays’ prospect, Daniel Norris, lives in a fucking van. Yes you’ve read well. A millionaire living in a VW Camper. You can consider it his own way to escape to stress of the major league. He doesn’t want to change who he is because of the money or because of what society think is normal. Amazing article.

[*] The Scene of the Crime (The New Yorker) – The My Lai massacre of 1968 was a pivotal moment of the Vietnam war. Take a look at this event as reporter Seymour M. Hersh goes back after 47 years. He was the one who broke the massacre story in 1969.

[*] Undeveloped World War II Film Discovered (10 minutes @ Vimeo) – This is a video about The Rescued Film Project. They discovered and processed 31 rolls of film shot by an American World War II soldier over 70 years ago.


Growth

[*] The Library of Ernest Hemingway (Art of Manliness) – I’m always curious to hear about great people reading list. Ernest Hemingway was a huge reader. He spent many hours a day reading. He had the habits of reading 4 books at the same time. Books by Tolstoy, Dumas, Thomas Mann and Marcel Proust were among his bookshelf.

[*] 10 Things I Learn From Richard Branson (James Altucher) – We can learn a lot from people who has achieved great success. Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin, is one of them. Altucher take 10 quotes from Richard Branson and tell us how we can learn from these.

[*] 17 of our favorite Steve Jobs quotes from the new book about his life (Business Insider) – All these great quotes are from the new book Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart Into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli. The book will be release this week.


Health/Fitness

[*] You’ll Never Guess What’s Actually in Your Supplements (Exo Journal) – Interesting article about how some supplements could be misleading. Imagine buying a St-John wort bottle and that in fact is just rice. An other example? Finding plant species not listed on the label. The University of Guelph study was only about herbal products. It would be interesting to take a look at sports supplements.

[*] The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide (1hr40 @ Tim Ferriss Show) – Interview with James Fadiman (Ph.D. from Stanford) the author of the book The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide. Fadiman is seen as “America’s wisest and most respected authority on psychedelics and their use”. Jim Fadiman has been involved with psychedelic research since the 60s.

[*] How Tea Works (55 minutes @ Stuff You Should Know) – An interesting podcast on the origin of tea and how it works. Tea is the second most popular drink on the planet after water. They explain the different categories of tea and the process for each of them.


Motivation

[*] THE HIMALAYAS FROM 20 000 FEET  (3 minutes @ Vimeo) Short video filmed from a helicopter with a crew flying from Kathmandu at 4,600 ft. up to 24,000 ft. on supplemental oxygen. The images are simply breathtaking. I highly suggest you watch it.

[*] Kron Gracie Highlight Reel (6 minutes @ YouTube) – Kron Gracie is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and a member of the famous Gracie family. He is the youngest son of Rickson Gracie. If you remember, I’ve talked about the Gracie in Against the Grain. It’s a short video of his best highlights.

[*] MMA: When Taunting Goes Wrong (4 minutes @ YouTube) – I hate people who are taunting and disrespecting the opponent. It’s always a satisfaction when taunting goes wrong. Including Anderson Silva getting knockout by Chris Weidman.


Entertainment

[*] Birdman (movie) – It is the winner of the 2015 Academy Awards for the best motion picture. Mikael Keaton is in the role of a washed-up actor, who once played an iconic superhero. We follow him in the days leading up to the opening of his Broadway play. The movie his filmed in one long sequence.

[*] The Imitation Game (movie) – What a great movie! This is the story of Alan Turing, who helped break Germany’s Enigma code during World War II. Turing is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. Great performance by Benedict Cumberbatch.

[*] Tracing the History of Pinball from Illegal Gambling Game to American Obsession (14 minutes @ Vice) – Did you know that between 1940 and 1970, pinball was banned in some of US biggest cities? Learn about the game past and future in that interesting video from Vice.

[*] The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing (Book) – A little book I’ve started few days ago. It’s a classic business book by Al Ries and Jack Trout that was published more than 20 years ago. Marketing has its laws just like nature. We should violate them at our own risks.

[*] The Making of NHL 94 (Blake J. Harris) – A great article by the author of Console Wars. NHL 94 is classic game from my childhood. It’s interesting to see the history behind that game.  I had a great laugh when I read about the confrontation between the producer Michael Brook and the hockey player Ken Baumgartner.


The Wasteland

[*] Bourbon cocktail: Wild Child (Daily Shot) – Here is a good idea for a cocktail with Bourbon. You’ll need lemon juice, maple syrup and Aperol. Enjoy your drink!

[*] 12 IMAGES THAT SHOW THE GRIT AND BEAUTY OF MYANMAR (Matador Network) – Last month I’ve talked about wanting to go to east Asia. Take a look at these pictures of Myanmar. You’ll want to buy your plane ticket in the next hour.

[*] THE WORLD’S BEST WHISKIES 2015 (Cool Material) – The best single malt of the world in 2015 is from…Taiwan. Get ready to hear about whiskies you didn’t know at all.

We Are Blind: Our Non-Stop Ignorance

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“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.” – George Bernard Shaw

I’ve talked recently about the idea that a little knowledge can be dangerous. Knowledge is a fragile thing. We can be 100% certain about something, but in truth being totally wrong. Take a look in the past and you’ll see many obvious examples of what I’m saying.

We thought that the earth was flat and we were wrong. Medical history has a great record of how many stupid beliefs we had. Bloodletting was used as a treatment for almost 3000 years. Why did it persist for so long? Because of the social, economic and intellectual pressures.

The medical field isn’t the exception. We most likely believe in the wrong for many aspects of life. It’s hard to make society change an idea. In the 1980s, saturated fat was seen as bad for the health. The idea is still around today even if we have evidence of the opposite.

The problem isn’t just about what we know and don’t change. It is also about what we totally ignore. We might be doing things that could lead to irreversible damage by our ignorance. You should be aware of that blindness and remember that a Sword of Damocles might be above your head as you read those lines.

Randomness #4

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Life/Culture

[*] Gary Bettman’s Hockey Goal (Wall Street Journal) – Great article about Gary Bettman’s work with the NHL. No matter what we can say against him, since he’s the job, NHL revenue has increased by 1000%.

[*] The Sweat Solution (Gratland.com – Short film) – A 17 minutes video about the birth of Gatorade in Florida. It was used at first by University of Florida football team.

[*] Hardcore History Podcast – I’ve discovered that podcast at the beginning of the year. I’m a bit late about that one. It’s already a top blog on Itunes. If you want to learn about The First World War, the Vikings or the Khans Empire, it’s the place to go. I’ve personally started with Prophets of Doom.


Self-Improvement

[*] What I Learned About Life After Interviewing 80 Highly Successful People (jamesaltucher.com) – James Altucher is an interesting writer. He’s also the host of his own podcast. Among his guest, the billionaire Mark Cuban. In this article, he make a summary of what he learned doing all his interviews for his podcast.

[*] 10 Tips for Successfully Working from Home (Art of Manliness) – Ever dreamed of working from home? Here are a few useful tips to achieve that goal and make it success.

[*] Productivity Advice I Learned from People Smarter Than Me (NY Observer) – Great article by Ryan Holiday. He talked about what he learned from great people…past or present. You’ll learn a bunch of stuff from the likes of Napoleon, Andrew Carnegie, Montaigne or Robert Greene.


 Health/Fitness

[*] Oil Bags: The Rise of the Idiots (T-Nation.com) – Funny article in sense, but not so much after all. Learn about stupid people injecting “site-enhancement oil” to artificially inflate muscles. You can guess that complications follow afterward.

[*] Brain Drinks Might Make You Less Smart (Wired) – An article about the brand of drink “NeuroSonic”. After some research, it look like it doesn’t help you being smarter. 

[*] Detoxes: an undefined scam (Examine.com) – Tired of hearing about cleanse and detox? It’s surprising how much people believe in it. Science says it’s all a scam. A must read.

[*] Can drinking wine really replace exercise? (Examine.com) – It’s an answer to an article that claim that red wine could replace an hour of exercise. Welcome to the world of catchy headlines and bullshit journalism. Thank God, Examine is here to save the day.


Books

[*] Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game – Remember the movie with Brad Pitt? It’s the book that inspired it. It’s simply great. One of the best book I’ve read in a while. The book explain how the Oakland A’s were at the top of the MLB at the beginning of the 2000s despite being the poorest. How can the poorest team do almost as good as the richest (cough Yankees cough)?

[*] The Magic of Thinking Big – A classic self-help book published in 1959. This book was recommended by many authors. I remember Tim Ferriss saying it was one of his favorite. It’s the perfect book to read at the beginning of the year. It’s a great kick in the butt.

[*] You Are Now Less Dumb – I’m a reader of the author’s blog (You Are Not So Smart). The book is about human delusions about themselves. It’s good popular psychology. You’ll learn a bunch of stuff…and you’ll be less dumb in the end.


 Entertainment

[*] The Interview (Netflix) – A lot of buzz around that movie because of all the crap that happened with North Korea. It’s a fun movie with Seth Rogen and James Franco. Not oscar worthy, but an enjoyable two hours.  You can either buy it on YouTube or watch it on Netflix.

[*] The Guest (movie) – I didn’t know to expect from that independent movie, but I really liked it. The soundtrack is great.  The story is simple. A soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, he claim to be a friend of their son who died on the front. Once he is welcome inside the home, a series of weird events occurs. The movie has a strong 80s vibe. We can see it as an homage to old John Carpenter’s or James Cameron’s movies.

[*] Rogue Legacy (Game on Steam) – Nothing new under the sun. The game was published in 2013. It was on my list since a while. I almost didn’t game in 2014. I gave a try to this one. It’s amazing how a game with simple graphic can be so addictive and good. My younger self playing the old Nintendo would have been crazy about it. The game bring two interesting thing…when you die you comeback as the child of you hero. The castle you explore randomly change when you die. I like new concepts like these.


Misc

[*] Experts Say These Are The 20 Best Beers In The World (Businessinsider.com) – Not a recent article. It’s from August 2014. But, if you’re searching for a must try beer list. It’s a good one.

[*] 7 Ways to Level Up Your Morning Coffee Routine (Art of Manliness) – Coffee must be one of the best thing in the world. Ok ok I’m a coffee addict…I know! #2 is something I’ve never thought about. It’s a wonderful idea. And I should try #6.

Foundation

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The awareness that health is dependent upon habits that we control makes us the first generation in history that to a large extent determines its own destiny. – Jimmy Carter

Everyone should have a life foundation. Here is mine. They are what I do on consistent basis or almost. From time to time, I neglect them and things start to go bad. As soon as I make it a priority to do it, things start to go well again. I’m not promising overnight success or the you will become the richest person in the world. But I can promise you that you will feel way better, you’ll have more ideas than ever before and stress will go down. If you don’t have time, find it.

1. Excessive reading. Aim to read a lot. Like 50 books or more a year. Read all the fucking time. Read about every subjects: history, psychology, philosophy, biology, finance, marketing, business, etc. Books can give you an insane load of ideas. The more you read, the more benefits you’ll get out of it. Put more in the bank, you’ll get interest. It’s the same principle with reading. PLEASE avoid crappy and easy books. Read stuff that will make you grow. You don’t have any idea what you should read next? Start with some philosopher like Seneca, Epictetus, David Hume, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Read biographies about great men like Alexander The Great, Churchill, Rockefeller or Kennedy. Try novels by Tolstoy, Balzac or Mark Twain. I’m currently reading Law of Success by Napoleon Hill.

2. Write a journal. I’ve already cover that subject in The Lost Art of Journaling. Writing a diary is powerful tool that can help you during struggles and bad time. You will find after a while that similar problems keep coming back. That’s where your journal become a teacher. You can learn from your own past. Writing helps emptying the head of all your worries. That’s mean you’ll be less stress. I would suggest to write even if things are going well in your life. Keeping a diary doesn’t just help with problems. It will improve your memory, it will make you get more ideas and you’ll get better at writing. Do it everyday.

3. Write 10 ideas. This is an extension of the journal writing. I’ve learned that trick in James Altucher’s Choose Yourself. Find a topic to write about. It can be anything from struggles, problems solving, finding business ideas, travel ideas or anything else that is useful. For example, you could write 10 ideas about why junk food is bad for you. Detail as much as possible (20+ lines) for each ideas. Make your brain work really hard. Do that for a couple of months and you’ll become an idea machine. It’s a wonderful tool, but you need to do it on a consistent basis to get the rewards. Keep in mind that your brain is like a muscle. You need to exercise it. If you don’t, the idea muscle will simply shrink.

4. Use the power of gratitude. It’s another thing I do in my personal journal. It doesn’t take much time. I suggest that at the end of each day, you write was good about it. It can be something anything. It can be as simple as the time you spent with a friend or the coffee you took at Starbucks. For example, today I was grateful for having a meal with my parents, breaking a record in the gym, reading a book and listening to good music. It can be anything that made your day good. You’ll find even good things about your shitty days. We tend to focus much more on the negative and that is a problem. In How to Be The Luckiest Person Alive, James Altucher suggest to express gratitude even for the bad stuff. The best example, your tight on money…you should be thankful for learning to make a budget. Once you learn to be grateful, you’ll open the newspaper and you’ll feel instantly happier. Why? Grateful people understand that their first world problems are nothing compare to the shit that happen everyday around the world.

5. Minimal boozing. In a perfect world we wouldn’t drink at all. unfortunately, society is really pushy to make us drink. Try a month without boozing and you’ll say no a thousand times. Not drinking isn’t the norm. The problem is that the more we drink, the more depress we are. Alcohol is cool in the moment, but it’s effects aren’t that good afterward. It isn’t good for you health, you mood and your brain. Keep it low, don’t drink more than 2-3 drinks each day. Keep it even lower than that in bad times. You feel bad should mean don’t drink. We tend to do the opposite and it’s self-destructive behavior. Alcohol won’t save you anyway. Face your problems.

6. Eat clean. I can make comparisons with alcohol consumption. I usually tend to eat more crap when I feel bad. The result is simple, I’ll feel even worse. It should be a must to eat three good meals everyday. Eat plenty of protein and vegetables. Try to keep junk food to a minimum. That include soft drink, dessert and chips. I suggest cheating once or twice max a week. I’m not advocating perfection here. I know we’re human. Keep junk as a reward, not a daily habit.

7. The 6 Items List. I got that idea from The Ultimate Sales Machine. You take a piece of paper before going to bed and you write your 6 most important tasks for the next day (no more). It’s a great tool because you already have a plan for your next day. You have the blueprint of what your best day should be. You go to bed without worry. You wake up and you’re already in fight mode. Even better, you can set a definite time to complete each task. One of the best way to use that list is to start early and do some of the work before starting to read emails. Believe me, it will be your most productive time of the day.

8. The Weekly Review. I got that idea from Getting Things Done 7 years ago. It’s one of the best way to keep your things organized and move toward your life goals. You set a period of 2 to 3 hours each week where you review what you did good or bad during your week. You plan what you want to do for the next week. It’s a good time to take a look at your current goals, empty your email inbox and do all the small tasks you didn’t have time to do. I usually break my life in different fields like work, learning, writing, health, finance, voluntary work and active projects. I’ll write 10 to 15 lines for each fields. On my part, I usually do this on Friday afternoon. In my head, that means the week is over.

9. Be the early bird. I’m far from being the best at that, but I’ve found that the earlier I raised, the more I did during my day. You can take advantage of the quiet morning time. You don’t have emails to answer, no phone calls to return and you don’t receive sms. All those things take a lot of time and make us lose focus during our days. That’s why it’s difficult to keep up with the work we have to do. It’s a modern society reality. We can’t avoid it, but we can be smart about it. The best way to do it is to have a morning routine you like. Get a good cup of coffee and read a book. Then, attack your work.

10. Move. This one is a must. I’m always surprise when I hear about people who do nothing. Get up and do exercise. Lift weight, fight, jump, run, climb a rope or play football. I don’t care what you do, BUT FUCKING MOVE. Our body was built to move. We’re not triggered to watch TV all the time. Get a good dose of sport 3 to 4 times a week. It can only be positive for yourself.

11. Play It Away. This mean you can’t be working or doing intellectual work all the time. You should plan a relaxation night or afternoon every week (even 2 if you want). Go watch a movie, play a video game, have a board game night with friends or go to the shopping mall with your girlfriend/boyfriend. The idea is to do something else than your routine. Look at a week without any planned fun and it will be the longest ever. You won’t see the end of the tunnel. I would suggest to plan relatively big events every few week. I’ve noticed that it help the mood to have something to look toward.

A foundation is personal to each person. It is a suggestion. Take what you think that can be beneficial for you and adapt it to your life. I’ve put what I think is the most important, but I could easily add a lot of other items on that list. Remember that your foundation should be your life guide. Avoid it at your risks and perils.

Randomness of July 2014

In “randomness”, I’m posting about the interesting stuff of the last month. It can be quotes, books, articles, websites, movies or whatever I think you could find interesting.

I’m kind of late this month. I was in the Balkans for 15 days and I’ve come back a week ago. The trip was awesome. I had the chance to visit Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia and Montenegro. I won’t go in more details.

[1] I rarely read fiction book and I want to make amend of that in the future. Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale was my first move on the good path. It’s the first book of the James Bond series. It’s more or less the same story as 2006 movie but in Cold War setting instead of the present. You can also take off the poker game by baccarat. A good book pack with action.

[2] I read a quick book just before leaving to Europe. It was Nate Green’s Bigger Smaller Bigger. The author take us in its adventure to get 20ibs of muscle in 28 days, lose 20ibs in 5 days, and get it all back. It’s interesting on the self-experimentation perspective. If you have any interest on getting muscle mass, I think it’s a good inspiration for it.

[3] I had the chance to see the legendary hardcore band Cro-Mags in show upon my return from Europe. I was surprise to see how many well-known rock bands say they were influence by them. One interesting stuff is that I thought the lead singer was in his late thirties…he’s in fact more than 50. I’ve done some research and the guy is an advocate of healthy lifestyle. He is the author of the book Meat is For Pussies about the lifestyle of being vegan, athletic and strong. I’m not vegan but the book look good and I would be curious to read it. Even the MMA fighter Jake Shields is a fan of the book.

[4] I’ve stumbled upon a quote from the business thinker Peter Drucker: “What gets measured gets managed.” Whatever you’re goal, if you can measure it, it will be way easier to achieve it. For example, if you goal is to lose weight you can measure your carbs intake or the calories you’re eating. I’ve noticed that the habits changes I wanted in my life were way easier to achieved when I was measuring the goal and tracking the progress.

[5] If you want to watch a weird documentary, I suggest Room 237. It’s free on YouTube. It’s about theories from fans on Stanley Kubrick’s Shining. It’s fun to see all those odds theories like the idea that Shining double meaning is the genocide of Indians. The fan show all the clues that point toward that theory. You’ll see theory like the Holocaust, the thematic of the Minotaur and much more. It’s nothing really serious, but it’s entertaining. My favorite part was the study of the set, I think it’s the best part.

[6] Do you like board games? One of my friend as a hardcore boardgamer and he always try new Kickstarter projects. Last time I went to his place, we’ve played a game of Kremlin. It’s an updated version of the old 1980’s game from Fata Morgana and Avallon Hill. It’s a strategic game of influence that take place in Soviet Union. The goal is more or less to take control of the Politburo.

[7] One of my favorite book is Letters From a Stoic by the roman philosopher Lucius Seneca. The book was written 2000 years ago and it could have been written today.  I’ve bumped into one of my favorite quote from the book last week: Now I bear it in mind not only that all things are liable to death but that liability is governed by no set of rules. Whatever can happen at anytime can happen today.” Whatever can happen someday, could happen today. You will die someday, but not rules says it shouldn’t be today, in a week or in 65 years.

[8] You’re serious about weightlifting but you don’t know how much alcohol you should take? I suggest you read Dr. Jade Teta’s article on the subject: A Lifter’s Guide to Alcohol. I’ve learned a bunch of things because of it. Seriously, a whole book should be written about that subject.

[9] I’ve got my hand on a cooking book. It’s La Technique by Jacques Pépin. Each recipes or techniques are shown step-by-step with pictures. That is must to learn and master cooking techniques. This is something I’ve been putting off since a long time. I like to cook, but since a year and half I’m really lazy. Hopefully, this book will motivate me to get the job done.

[10] We will finish with a quote from Jacques Pépin:”All the great chefs I know – Thomas Keller, Jean-Georges Vongerichten – they are technicians first.” This can apply to any fields, you need to understand and learn the techniques if you want to become good. It’s the same whether you are a cook, a martial artist or a pilot.